South Bend must pay ex-female officer $80K in retaliation case

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A federal judge has ordered a city in Indiana to pay more than $80,000 to a former female police officer who alleged the department illegally retaliated against her for accusing a male supervisor of sexual harassment.

The Thursday order came after a jury ruled in November that the South Bend Police Department unlawfully retaliated against Joy Phillips by targeting her for disciplinary action after she filed a sexual harassment complaint, The South Bend Tribune reported.

The jury ordered the city to pay Phillips $35,000 in damages. Judge Phillip Simon on Thursday ordered she be paid nearly $49,000 in addition for lost wages.

Phillips filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in October 2014, alleging a supervisor suggested she could wear a miniskirt and high heels to a meeting. The department launched multiple internal investigations and disciplinary actions after the complaint, Phillips said.

Phillips began working for the department in 1999. She was disciplined five times during her first 15 years on the job, court records said. She was investigated a dozen times and recommended for discipline in six cases after 2014.

Phillips filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and discrimination against the city and the male supervisor in November 2015. She later added a retaliation claim. The court dismissed the discrimination and sexual harassment allegations, only allowing the retaliation claim to go to court.

Phillips resigned from the department in July 2016. She’s currently a detective with the Elkhart Police Department.

South Bend’s attorney said any discipline against Phillips was solely to hold her accountable for policy violations.

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